Issue > Poetry
Cyrus Cassells

Cyrus Cassells

Cyrus Cassells is the author of five acclaimed books of poetry: The Mud Actor, Soul Make a Path Through Shouting, Beautiful Signor, More Than Peace and Cypresses and The Crossed-Out Swastika. His sixth book, The Gospel according to Wild Indigo: New & Selected Poems, is forthcoming. Among his honors are a Lannan Literary Award, a William Carlos Williams Award and a Lambda Literary Award.

You Be The Dancer

In the small hours, under Taurus,
Let's go back to adoring
The soul of the moon-bathed hill,
Whether we're feeling frisky,
Or still beguiled by inchoate dreams—
Let's revisit the cornerstone hour
When, all of twelve, I confessed
My preening babysitter,
In his detestable paisley cap
And sun-faded overalls,
Forced me to be his faux valentine,
And, in a risk-taking gambit,
You grasped my shaky hand,
And led me to this spellbinding hill,
With its exhilarating shouts
Of sage and cinquefoil—

Long ago, amid pert rosemary flowers,
I had my first authentic kiss
(I don't count the bully!),
My first Cuban cigar
(Not the counterfeit bubblegum kind).
As brash, brand-new acolytes,
We had no elucidating word  
For the hothouse link between us;
Bud-green Romeo & Romeo, we weren't
Blundering interns:
More like callow troubadours,
Meek or incautious
Navigators of the flesh—

Can you worship a place?
The way the avid Romans once revered
Their tutelary gods?
Look, here's our unmistakable boxwood,
The Blue Star juniper,
The night-silvered belvedere
Revealing the acrobatic river
And the bumpkin town
We were so hell-bent to leave:
I'm sure I could whip up a passable map,
A crude miniature
Of this facile-to-memorize hill,
Our hush-hush stronghold,
Or better still, an apt
Pirate's or scalawag's design,
Reclaimed a century or two from today,
With a conspicuous x-marks-the-spot
Leading its lucky finder
Directly to our talismanic hill—

And yes, this pulse-altering place
Was tantamount to an idyllic schoolhouse:
You praised, like a pimpled Solomon,
My terrific lashes,
My magnetic, "tea-brown eyes,"
And taught me to dance up here—
Mashed Potato, Loco-Motion, Frug, and Shimmy—
And thus, mon amour, I found my métier;
You started calling me Dancer,
And the puckish nickname stuck:
I became the nimble boy
All the doting 8th grade girls desired
On the auditorium floor,
But with you, I was a clandestine dancer—

Then in-a-dash years passed:
Some bereft of any word of you,
Some brimming with up-to-the minute bulletins
Of your escapades, blazing hopes, accomplishments—

Home now, standing on our failsafe hill,
I insist: Baby, it's worth our while,
Coming back, despite the old
Boredom, secrecy, and blatant bullying—
After relishing the compass star's clarity,
The glittering river's ballet,
You laugh and cajole:
I definitely prefer the grown-up you,
But wonder: can you still manage
A cartwheel? And dare I ask—the Batusi?—

Transformed by winnowing Time's wand
Into abiding, grey-bearded revenants,  
Burly, truth-or-bust men,
We laugh in disbelief:
Look at us; I can't believe
We're lovers again at sixty—

And on this allaying hill,
Hemmed with showy, Mars-red berries
Littering a reflecting creek,
The hallowing summer night,
The ecstatic hour of our homecoming winds
The way a caduceus winds and heals—

Of course I'll marry you.


Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail
What We Carry To Mars


Greg Maddigan

Greg Maddigan
On The Water With My Mother


Lana Bella

Lana Bella